Over the this week we’ve seen all manner of events remembering the D-Day landings and last night we were at the cosy Minerva Theatre in Chichester to check out a new play from David Haig that looks at one of the most important events of the 20th Century from a fresh angle.
As well as writing Pressure Haig stars as Dr James Stagg the revolutionary meteorologist who was brought in to help Eisenhower in planning the beach landings. The play centres on Stagg’s dour Scottish resolve in arguing that Eisenhower’s plans risk falling apart due to storms and the showy bluffing of the American weather expert Irving Krick.
Based entirely on true events that took place just over Portsdown Hill (a couple of miles from where I’m sat writing this) at Southwick House, Pressure finds the humanity ofliving through a war. Laura Rogers as Kay Sommersby has some particularly poignant moments as she comes to terms with the fact that serving Eisenhower has been the happiest time of her life.
As the General himself Malcolm Sinclair is an engaging presence and a real person rather than an unformed icon. When he asks Stagg to explain rugby and how it differs from American Football you realise how his rank has trapped him and made him remote from his men.
The foil to Stagg comes in the form of tanned, moustachioed Hollywood weather man Krick, an oily salesman made all the more slimy in Tim Beckmann’s portrayal. His whirlwind presence and glib reliance on history in the face of Stagg’s overwhelming volumes of data risks the loss of 50,000 or more lives.
A mesmerising look at history from a different angle, and a reminder that even at the top, the decisions of war are made by people not dissimilar to you and I, Pressure is a play not to be missed and one that deserves to be seen by wider audiences!